Whole White Pepper. According to world history, we learned that White Pepper and Black Pepper have been among the most valuable spices in the world. Both of them were specifically among the most important spices traded between European countries during the Age of Discovery. It had been proved that the Discoverer of America, Christopher Columbus, was searching for pepper and the “spice island” in his journey when he discovered the New World. In a few years later, during the Middle Ages, pepper especially white pepper was a luxury, affordable only for the wealthiest Europeans until around 1800 B.C. and was worth more than gold. But pepper plants, piper nigrum, only grew in the tropical climate. Because of that, the pepper was and has been exported from Southeast Asia, including Thailand , India, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Black Pepper and White Pepper derive from the same plant but they are processed in different methods. Their aroma and flavor are also quite different besides having different colors. Truthfully, white pepper’s taste and flavor are similar to black pepper, but it is slightly milder and smoother. For that reason, some people prefer to use white pepper in their cooking. Besides, white pepper’s color will not leave black flecks throughout the dish, so some people also use white pepper for aesthetic reason.
At the moment, you can find either Ground White Pepper or Whole White Pepper anywhere. They are widely available at the grocery store and other stores. For convenience, some people prefer to buy ground white pepper as it can be used instantly and easy to apply. They should not have to grind the white peppercorns. However, others prefer to buy whole white pepper because whole white pepper maintains its flavor longer. In other words, this spice which is known as the “king of spices” offers the perfect way to maintain long-lasting flavor without sacrificing its freshness.
Both of White Pepper and Black Pepper are not interchangeable in recipes due to white pepper – either Whole White Pepper or ground pepper – is slightly milder than black pepper. Even Vietnam’s grilled lemongrass pork chops, thit heo nuong xa, would not be the same without a hit of white pepper. White pepper is usually used in dishes where the dark color of black pepper would make the food appear dirty or dusty due to its subtle coloring. For example, white pepper is typically used in mashed potatoes, alfredo, boiled eggs, béchamel sauces, and cauliflower.
In most recipes, there are two common ways to use Whole White Pepper in preparing dishes. The first way is just wrapping whole white peppercorns in a cheesecloth or muslin pouch and let them infuse in a stew, casserole, or soup. The second way is to ground whole pepper by using a pepper mill, spice grinder, or mortar and pestle to grind whole white peppercorns into a fine powder. The ground white pepper releases more of pepper’s delicious oils and aroma; but it loses most of its aroma and taste in just 30 minutes. At the same time, the flavor of not crushed Whole White Pepper will be milder than adding ground pepper directly to the dishes.